Want donors to stay engaged? Thank them!
Sounds like a no-brainer, doesn’t it?
Well, it’s unfortunate how many nonprofits don’t thank their donors.
Of course we thank them. After all, many of our donations are done online and we have our system send a receipt/thank you note.
Is this really thanking your donor? Does this create engagement?
I suggest not. Want donors to stay engaged? Thank them!
I don’t believe that the lapse is intentional. But, those thank you notes are extremely important. Here are some meaningful ways to rectify the situation and ensure that your donors stay engaged:
- Integrate writing thank you notes into your development plan. The Ten Steps to a Successful Fundraising Event is a good model for fundraising, not only fundraising events.
- Choose or update your database. The importance of the right database is fundamental to keep your organization on track. Choosing Database Software for Nonprofits describes areas in which you’ll use your database including donor thank yous, retention and engagement.
- Stewardship is a meaningful way to engage your board members in fundraising. They can write informal, handwritten thank you notes to complement the thank you notes that include the necessary IRS language for taxes. Here’s a copy of Charitable Contributions – Substantiation and Disclosure Requirements.
Donor acquisition is extremely important. Yet 3 of 4 donors leave and never come back. Frank Barry, director of digital marketing at Blackbaud and blogger at npENGAGE, wrote a very interesting blog post One thing most nonprofits stink at (donor retention) and how you can change it interviewed fundraising experts from across the industry to share 12 super simple (but effective) ways to engage and retain donors. I was thrilled when I saw how many spoke to the importance of heartfelt thank you notes.
These 12 Ways to Thank Donors will keep them from saying goodbye offer a good guide for using thank you notes to keep your donors engaged:
- Offer donors a next step in your thank you note.
- Thank your donors for being them.
- Send a handwritten note.
- Treat each donation as the beginning of a meaningful friendship.
- Don’t ask for more money — yet.
- Keep it simple and emotional, not filled with jargon.
- Make your donor feel something positive in your thank you letter.
- Avoid careless errors – double check your grammar and spelling.
- Send your thank you letter as fast as possible.
- Make the letter relevant.
- Give the donor credit, not you.
- Follow up later.
Writing thoughtful timely thank you letters is hard work. But, it’s worth it!
Thank you for all you do for your community. And, thank you for following my blog.
I’d love to hear from you with suggestions for keeping donors engaged!